The Anonymous Widower

Minding The Gap – Barking Style

There are several ways of minding the gap between the train floor and the platform on railway systems.

  • There’s the simple get the geometry right method used on the Elizabeth Line, parts of the London Overground and some other routes.
  • There’s Stadler’s method where a gap filler comes out from the train.

But I’d never seen, this simplemethod that is used at Barking Riverside station on the London Overground.

Note the rubber strip, where all the doors on the train are by the platform.

This is a simple device and I’ve never seen it before.

But according to this article on Rail Technology Magazine, it has been in use on Heathrow Express for a year.

The devices are Australian and come from a company called Delkor Rail.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Using The Elizabeth Line Between London City And Heathrow Airports

Today, I went from London City Airport to Heathrow using the Docklands Light Railway, the underground section of the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.

London City Airport And Poplar Stations

I took these pictures on this section of the route using the Docklands Light Railway.

Note.

  1. I started my journey at 13:15.
  2. I arrived at Poplar at 13:27.
  3. The journey took twelve minutes, which agrees with the timetable.

This is a route, that gives a view of London’s rebuilding in the East.

Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations

I walked this section.

Note.

  1. I started my walk from Poplar station at 13:27.
  2. I was on the platform at Canary Wharf station at 13:39.
  3. I used a lift at Poplar station and the escalators at Canary Wharf station.
  4. The walk took twelve minutes, but it was a roundabout route.
  5. It looks like a level walkway is to be built between the two stations.

This Google Map shows the are between the two stations.

Note.

  1. Poplar station in the North-East of the map.
  2. The bridge at Poplar station, that provides the route I took over Aspen Way.
  3. After crossing the bridge and using the lift, I walked along the South side of Aspen Way.
  4. I then walked South down the path at the East side of the site, where it appears from the hoardings, flats will be built.
  5. Finally, I turned left to walk along the dock and then right to cross into Canary Wharf station.

Work appears to have started at Canary Wharf on the Southern end of an extended walkway, that will link to the bridge over Aspen Way.

This direct route could be nearly two hundred metres shorter and would shorten the connection by several minutes.

Canary Wharf And Paddington Stations

This section of the journey took nineteen minutes and I arrived at Paddington at 13:58, as this picture shows.

It had taken forty-three minutes between London City Airport and Paddington stations.

Paddington And Heathrow Airport By Heathrow Express

I took the 14:10 Heathrow Express to the Airport and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It took about six minutes to walk between the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.
  2. This was my first ride on Heathrow Express, since the service has started using Class 387 trains.
  3. The trains are fine, but where are the tables, that I like so much in the other Class 387 trains?
  4. The train arrived at Heathrow Central at 14:29.

This meant my journey between the two airports had taken an hour and fourteen minutes.

Canary Wharf to Heathrow using Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line had taken thirty-four minutes.

Return To Paddington On The Elizabeth Line

I came back from Heathrow on an Elizabeth Line train, which took 29 minutes.

That would mean that today using the Elizabeth Line to Heathrow.

  • Heathrow and Canary Wharf will take 48 minutes.
  • Heathrow and London City Airport will take one hour and twenty-nine minutes.

The difference in time between the two trains is solely down to the times of the Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line trains between Paddington and Heathrow.

What Difference Will A Direct Elizabeth Line Connection Make?

Canary Wharf are giving a figure of thirty-nine minutes between Canary Wharf and Heathrow, when the Elizabeth Line fully opens.

This would appear to indicate that fully opening the Elizabeth Line connection at Paddington will save nine minutes and the Elizabeth Line will only be a few minutes slower than Heathrow Express, if you can cut out the change at Paddington.

This table compares times between Canary Wharf and Heathrow.

  • Elizabeth Line with a change at Paddington – 48 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express with a change at Paddington – 34 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line direct – 39 minutes

How many passengers will swap from Heathrow Express to a complete Elizabeth Line?

Is There Going To Be A Pedestrian Bridge Between Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations?

This Google Map shows the bridge that leads South from Canary Wharf station.

Note how the bridge could have been designed to go through the station to the housing to the North and perhaps ultimately to Poplar DLR station.

These pictures show the complete bridge on the South side and what could be the start of construction on the North side.

Note.

  1. This pictures were taken on two dates.
  2. A full bridge would connect the new housing to the shopping centre and the Jubilee Line station.
  3. Between Poplar and Canary Wharf stations would be around 120 metres.
  4. There would be a straight and level walking route between Poplar DLR station and the two Canary Wharf Jubilee and Elizabeth Line stations.
  5. A short branch would lead to Canary Wharf DLR station.
  6. Stairs would lead to the buses that run through Canary Wharf.

It does appear that the North and South bridges will form a continuous straight route.

The bridge would create a comprehensive transport interchange for East London.

 

 

 

 

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Or Heathrow Express?

I have a friend, who lives in Walthamstow and used to fly out of Heathrow quite frequently.

He usually goes to Heathrow using Heathrow Express, but after looking up the times by using the Overground to Liverpool Street and then Crossrail direct to Heathrow, I suspect he’ll change his route.

Current Route

  • Walthamstow Central to Paddington – 24 mins by Underground
  • Paddington to Heathrow Central – 17 mins by Heathrow Express

Total – 41 mins – 2 changes

Crossrail Route

  • Walthamstow Central to Liverpool Street – 15 mins by Overground
  • Liverpool Street to Heathrow Central – 33 mins by Crossrail

Total – 48 mins – 1 change

It looks to me, that the Crossrail route has one less train change and less walking. And a cheaper ticket!

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large drop in passengers on Heathrow Express.

August 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Surrey Live.

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are The Class 387 Trains For Heathrow Express Ready To Roll?

These pictures show the refurbished Class 387 trains, that will be used by Heathrow Express.

They will replace Class 332 trains.

Are they ready to roll? I hope they are not going to cover. what I think is an attractive livery, with hideous advertising!

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

ETCS Tested Successfully On Heathrow Express Class 387s

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

Once the Class 387 trains can use ETCS on Heathrow Express between Paddington and Heathrow, this must surely allow them to work more intensively with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are also fitted with the same ETCS signalling.

 

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of 45 Class 387 trains

Twelve trains are currently being converted to Heathrow Express duties.

But if Crossrail takes over services between London and Reading, then their main use wuill have disappeared.

As Reading to Oxford is not fully-electrified, they can’t be used on this route, but both Class 802 and Class 769 trains can.

There may be used for trains on routes like.

  • Reading and Didcot Parkway
  • Reading and Newbury

But there won’t be opportunities to use thirty-three trains.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Massive Taxi Queues At Paddington

I took this picture at Paddington in the late morning.

There were masses of passengers with heavy cases queuing for the taxis.

I suspect all had been conned into coming into London on the overpriced Heathrow Express.

Roll on, Crossrail!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

Ticketing On Heathrow Southern Railway

This article on City AM is entitled New Elizabeth Line Services Are Coming To Heathrow’s Terminal 5 After Airport Strikes Deal With The Government and TfL. It contains this paragraph.

Heathrow has also announced that it is introducing Oyster and contactless payments for all rail services going into the airport. From May 2018, new ticket readers will be installed at Heathrow, so anyone using Heathrow Express and TfL Rail will be able to use an Oyster or contactless.

When I passed through Heathrow a couple of weeks ago, there was evidence of new ticket gates being installed.

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Services

Heathrow Southern Railway are proposing four services to the West of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

  • Heathrow Express from Terminal 5 to Woking, Guildford and Basingstoke, with an additional stop at Farnborough Main.
  • Crossrail from Terminal 5 to Staines
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Waterloo with stops at Staines, Clapham Junction and possibly Ashford, Felham, Twickenham, Richmond and Vauxhall.
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Weybridge with stops at Egham, Virginia Water, Chertsey and Addlestone.

Some of the stations like those between Feltham and Waterloo already accept contactless ticking, but surely all of them must if Heathrow Southern Railway is built, as you’ll be able to use contactless ticketing at Heathrow, but not at say Woking or Basingstoke.

Onward From Basingstoke, Guildford And Woking

A proportion of travellers from places like Bournemouth, Exeter, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Southampton will use Heathrow Southern Railway to get to the airport, with an appropriate change at Basingstoke, Guidford or Woking.

Will these travellers want to use contactless ticketing?

Conclusion

There will be a lot of discussions about ticketing on the Heathrow Southern Railway.

These ticketing issues, help to make it very understandable, why MTR, a partner in South Western Railway, want to join the Heathrow Southern Railway, as I wrote about in MTR Vying To Join Heathrow Southern Rail Bid.

Travellers want the ticketing system with the least hassle and as London is proving, contactless ticketing with bank cards works well!

 

 

 

April 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment